It is operated by APEM’s field team and was purchased and funded with investment from the Healthy Waterways Trust, Salford City Council and the Environment Agency.

As well as bottles, food packaging and other plastic waste, the boat also removes an assortment of other items from the river including hundreds of floating footballs. These are blown, fall or are washed into the water from all over the city and collect in litter hotspots.

Bins of litter gathered from the River Irwell aboard the Irwell Pride litter collection vessel.

A recent haul of plastic litter from the River Irwell.

The boat is the latest step in the hugely successful clean-up of the River Irwell, once one of the foulest and most polluted rivers in the country.

Decades of improvements have seen businesses and residents flock back to the river, with an estimated 48,000 workers and 10,000 residents now living and working in close proximity to it. Around 100,000 pedestrians cross the river on a daily basis.

APEM’s field team manager, Peter Dennis, said: “The industrial revolution led to unregulated poisoning of rivers like the Irwell. The dramatic improvement in water quality we’ve seen over recent decades is one of the great environmental success stories of our time.

“It’s only been possible because of massive investment by water companies like United Utilities and tougher standards administered by regulators like the Environment Agency.

“But no matter how much cleaner the water in the river is, if it’s spoiled by litter then that’s bad for wildlife and unsightly for people.

“We’re proud to have been involved in the clean-up of the Irwell right from the earliest days and to continue doing our bit, which is why we whole-heartedly support the call for action on plastic litter.”

To help fund the litter boat, it is available for hire. Since 2014 employees from Cargill’s starches and sweeteners facility in Trafford Park, for example, have commissioned a total of 18 trips aboard the Irwell Pride.

Volunteers from Cargill Foods on board the Irwell Pride litter collection vessel

Volunteers from Cargill Foods on board the Irwell Pride.

Anyone wanting to hire the boat for volunteers should contact Tom Napier-Munn on 0161 442 8938 or email

Read more about the impact of plastic litter on the BBC.

If you have any queries, please contact Tom Napier-Munn, senior field scientist.
Alternatively you can email us here. Or call 0161 442 8938.